Heatwave sapping your hopes to get fit? Head underwater!


With increasing temperatures soaring in most parts of the country this month, there's no better time to hit your nearest body of water for a full-body exercise session that's both effective and refreshing.

Too hot for a typical training session or outdoor activity? Don't let the season get the best of you – just slip on a swimsuit and make a splash this summer. Swimming is a terrific option if you're getting back into the swing of things at work, but want to fit exercise into a busy day, says Discovery Vitality biokineticist Mari Leach. This is because swimming can offer a total-body workout in just 20 minutes.

Steve Attwell, chairman of ATC Multisport and head coach at Embark agrees: “Swimming gets all your muscles, tendons and joints moving, without them bearing weight. This means that you can swim more often, and for longer (as compared to a high-impact sport like running), with a lower risk of injury.”

The life aquatic

While swimming lengths and practicing drills is a great way to improve your stroke, Mari adds that there's no need to limit yourself to it. Another fairly accessible water-friendly option is aqua aerobics (also called waterobics or aquafit), a kind of resistance training conducted in fairly shallow (usually waist-deep) water.

Aqua aerobics is a particularly good option if:

  • You like being in the water, but are either not yet confident enough or keen to swim laps, as the exercises are mostly done vertically, with your head above the water.
  • You enjoy the social aspects of getting active with others, as aqua aerobics is generally held as group sessions at gyms and health clubs.
  • You want to keep exercising but need to take it slow while you recover from injuries, surgery or a recent bout of poor health.
  • You are pregnant, as it takes some of the load off your weary joints.
  • You have arthritis and struggle to do weight-bearing exercises, or you just prefer to do lower-intensity exercises.

A splash of adrenalin

On the other hand, you are keen for a bit of a challenge, there are plenty of fun and faster-paced water sports you may want to try out – from surfing, paddling and water polo to rowing and white-water rafting. Don't assume that because you live inland these options are necessarily out – for example, there are kayaking and canoeing clubs in Gauteng where you can rent a canoe and head to the nearest dam to test your skills.

Swim yourself healthy this year

Looking for ideas and inspiration before you dip your feet in? Look no further:

  • Ice Ice Baby: If swimming for the sake of exercise doesn't sound adventurous enough to perk your interest, glean motivation from another remarkable record-breaker – Ram Barkai. At 60 years old, Barkai is a world record holder in ice swimming. He says the extreme conditions foster humility and mental fortitude – two qualities he values highly. Find inspiration to reach your personal swimming goals by reading Ram's story and his vison of taking ice-swimming to the Winter Olympics.
  • Try Steve Atwell's swim plan: If you're not quite ready to brave the ice, but are looking for a time-based swimming plan, here's one that includes a land warm-up, an open water section and a 25m pool workout (you can choose between the open water and the pool section, depending on what's available to you). Check out this neat underwater workout and learn how to swim your way to good shape.
  • Paddling 101 and its many pros: Seven-time South African Surfing Champion and professional Surf Coach Roxy Davies offers these handy tips on paddling for beginners. She also lists 10 benefits of surfing and Stand-Up Paddle boarding (SUP) for children. Don't forget that you can log your surf and SUP workout at Surf Emporium to earn Vitality points!
  • SwimCycleRun in the Mother City: A good way to motivate yourself to swim regularly is to sign up for a triathlon, like the Discovery Triathlon World Cup Cape Town 2019. In addition to hosting top triathletes from across the globe, the event also welcomes thousands of multisport enthusiasts for an exciting day of swimming, cycling and running along Cape Town's spectator-friendly seaboard. Learn more about this exciting event here and if you're already participating, find handy info on the Discovery triathlon site, like top tips to buy a wetsuit.

So whether youre catching waves in the ocean, frogging in your backyard pool or lapping lengths at your local gym, enjoy the season and get moving by hitting the water this summer!

SwimCycleRun at the Discovery Triathlon World Cup in Cape Town

The Discovery Triathlon World Cup Cape Town on Sunday, 10 February 2019 is the only ITU (International Triathlon Union) race that takes place on African soil. It forms part of the Discovery Get Active Weekend, which sees top-notch triathletes, multisport enthusiasts and novices enjoying an exciting day of swimming, cycling and running along the picturesque Atlantic Seaboard and iconic city landmarks. Enter today.

Hit the pool with confidence and save on swim gear with Vitality

Swimwear, goggles, flotation devices or underwater electronics – whatever you need to hit the pool with gusto, you can get for less with Vitality HealthyGear.

This benefit offers up to 25% cash back on a wide range of sportswear and equipment at Totalsports or Sportsman’s Warehouse. Join Vitality and activate your HealthyGear benefit today, or increase your cash back by doing a Vitality Fitness Assessment. So go on – make a splash today!

4 ways to get started with Discovery Vitality

  1. Join a weekly parkrun near you for free, timed 5km runs. As a Vitality member, you can earn 300 Vitality points for completing a parkrun event. All you need to do is register a profile on www.parkrun.co.za.
  2. The Team Vitality running club supports runners of all levels in a range of events. Enjoy up to 50% cash back on selected race entries, free, quality kit and hospitality after selected races, plus earn up to 5 000 Vitality points events you complete.
  3. Activate Vitality Active Rewards - it's free and you'll earn rewards like smoothies and raw juices from KAUAI, coffee from Mugg & Bean and vida e caffè, and popcorn from Ster-Kinekor for achieving your fitness goals every week.
  4. Do a Vitality Fitness Assessment to give you an understanding of your fitness level, and get tips for how to improve it. Plus you can earn 2 500 Vitality points for doing the assessment, and up to 5 000 additional points depending on how fit you are.

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